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With roughly 20,000 press releases a week injected into the webosphere, I'm wistful for the day back in 1995 when I sent one of my very first email-based press releases to announce a web site for Annie Lennox....


Through the magic of Google and Deja that press release is still out there. The ensuing online buzz about it was remarkable, even then. Lennox was one of the first major artists to offer a full length version of a song for free download.
You know, some folks might even call that Link Bait...
But I digress.
Press releases face a tremendous challenge in the online world. I could write a book on that topic alone. In fact, I think I will. But I digress again. There are inherent limitations to text-only copy in a world of long URLs and word wrap, creating the perfect storm for broken useless URLs. There's also the increasd use (and overuse) of social media tags, where a press release has so many "digg this!" and related buttons, badges, chicklets, tic tacs and links that it can barely be read.
Then there's the over zealous SEO folks who optimize press release in so many ways, and with so many "deep links" that it starts to look less like a press release and more like a site map. Do you really need a deep link to your sites "links page"? That's not clever, that's silly.
Another challenge is the URL that is so long it breaks to the next line and becomes useless for clicking and for the copy/paste challenged....
I've always said that press releases are one of the most misunderstood and mis-used forms of online communication. The biggest misunderstanding of all? Thinking that online media types want your press release in the first place. Some folks, like me, don't want your release. Not as plain text, not as a word attachment, not as a PDF or podcast. All I want is a brief note summarizing your news and directing me to the online version of your press release. And this is especially so when your press release is six pages long with 30 links in it and you wrote it in Old English style to be cute... Stop it.
A few ideas...
What I love to do see is a tool that combined the best of http://snipurl.com and the best of http://ekstreme.com/socializer/
Then, when I'm hoping to encorage socializing of the announcement here

http://www.urlwire.com/news/110706.html

I don't have to use this URL below, which may or may not break
http://ekstreme.com/socializer/?url=http%3A//www.urlwire.com/news/110706.html&title=SportoMotoring.com%20SUV%20Accessories%20and%20Parts%20Store%20Completes%20Relaunch
I can instead use this http://snipurl.com/124nh
Go ahead, try it. This is where us content publicists need to put on our geek/programming hats. The solution to encouraing socialization of announcements, press releases, etc., will come from the programmers, with us PR types helping them along so they understand what we need and why.
So I'm putting out the call for a Press Release Socializer tool that would offer several features that made it so easy it would be crazy to NOT use. I lack the programming skils to make it a reality, but as one who has been sending announcements via email for almost 15 years, I have a one-of-a-kind perspective to help advise what the tool should do and why.
Any takers?
Eric Ward
http://www.ericward.com

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
image of Eric Ward

Eric founded the Web's very first online publicity and linking services, NetPOST and URLwire, in 1994. Eric's expertise is in helping companies generate links, publicity and buzz for their Web content. A hands-on practitioner, Eric also offers training and seminars that teach companies how to do it in-house. His client list is a who's who of online brands, from Amazon.com to PBS.org.

Eric has written for for ClickZ and Ad Age, and he won the 1995 Tenagra Award For Internet Marketing Excellence. In 1997, he was named one of the Web's 100 most influential people by Websight magazine. A well-known speaker at the major industry trade shows, Eric will soon publish The Ward Report, a monthly "how-to" newsletter on the art of link building and publicity for Web content, with commentary on the newest trends and practices.

A native of northern New Jersey, Eric has lived in Knoxville, Tennessee since graduating from the University of TN. Eric's wife Melissa and toddler Noah say "bye daddy geek" every day when he leaves for work.

Eric can be reached at eric@ericward.com